LIVE: Rick Springfield @ The Egg, 11/21/14
Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
“You know I feel so dirty when they start talking cute
I wanna tell her that I love her, but the point is probably moot”
– from “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield
No question about it, Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” is a great pop song, an iconic audio artifact of the ’80s and the only No. 1 hit in rock history to feature the word “moot” in its lyrics.
As an ’80s hitmaker, rocker Rick Springfield specialized in arena-ready nuggets of well-crafted power-pop. But in his solo “Stripped Down” concert at The Egg’s Hart Theatre recently much of the power was drained from his pop gems.
He’s an exceptionally ingratiating performer, and that came through loud and clear during his 100-minute show, a kind of cross between MTV’s “Unplugged” and VH1’s “Storyteller.” But without the muscle of a band behind him, too many of the songs never really took off. Seated on a stool at centerstage surrounded by a phalanx of guitars, Springfield launched his show with the opening volley of “I Get Excited” and “An Affair of the Heart,” strumming his acoustic guitar with abandon. And right from the start, it was clear that this wasn’t really a solo show – without coaxing, the crowd sang along with him in full voice.
Then for the autobiographical “Me & Johnny,” he strapped on his electric guitar and kicked in the musical backing tracks in his laptop, or as he referred to it, his “band in a box.” It helped to fill out the sound, but there was a definite lack of “Human Touch.”
In truth, Springfield’s between-song stories were almost better than his songs. He told tales about stealing guitars to sell so he could buy a car; about touring Viet Nam with a showband in 1968; about smoking dope with Todd Rundgren; and about “Ricki & the Flash,” his upcoming movie with Meryl Streep (due in theaters in June).
He played a fair sampling of his hits, some unexpected covers (Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” was right on the money, although he didn’t fare as well with a pair of blues numbers – Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” and Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ & Tumblin'”), a new novelty country song (“If Wishes Were Fishes,” which contained the lyric, “I’m not a doctor, but I played one on TV,” a reference to his days as Dr. Noah Drake of “General Hospital”) and the emotional cornerstone of the night, “My Father’s Chair,” about coping with the death of his father.
And after the requisite closing romp through his classic pop hit, “Jessie’s Girl,” he returned, not for an encore, but rather for a 15-minute Q&A session with audience members as he sat on the edge of the stage. An interesting move, to be sure, and another nod to his oh-so devoted fans.
Oh, and in response to what must certainly be one of the most common questions he’s asked, the answer was “It’s briefs tonight”…
RICK SPRINGFIELD STRIPPED DOWN SET LIST
I Get Excited
An Affair of the Heart
Me and Johnny
Oh Well (Fleetwood Mac)
Love Is Alright
Rollin’ & Tumblin’ (Muddy Waters)
Honeymoon in Beruit
Don’t Talk to Strangers
Baby Blue (Badfinger)
April 24, 1981/My Father’s Chair
I’ve Done Everything for You
If Wishes Were Fishes
Written in Rock